Design tips for home offices in small spaces

Constant connection and the blurring of the lines between rest and work that it sometimes causes is one of the clearest downsides to the otherwise pretty awesome phenomenon of remote and flexible working. Tech tools that block distractions can help keep the spheres separate and give your brain a chance to recharge, as can shifting company culture to encourage rejuvenating off-time. But can space design also play a role?

If you have a huge pad then keeping your spaces for work and for chilling physically separate is a non-issue – just locate them in different parts of your home and simply close the door on your home office when you’re done for the day. But what if you’re an urban dweller or otherwise living in tight quarters for budgetary, environmental or lifestyle reasons? How can you keep your work life from invading spaces that should be used for chilling?

Design site Apartment Therapy tackled this issue recently, citing a clever strategy an Australian design firm used to solve this issue in a Melbourne apartment. Nexus Designs created what the blog dubs, “a top secret slide-open home office,” using a moveable door that’s artfully camouflaged to appear like just another wall when closed (pictured — check out Apartment Therapy for a full slide show of images). The result is a secret space both James Bond and design aficionados would be proud of. The flexible space solves the issue of being “forced to work in the place where you normally relax and kick back to watch zombie flicks,” as well as doubling as a guest bedroom.

Of course, professionally designed secret walls don’t come cheap, so Apartment Therapy notes that the general principals that make this solution successful can be applied to come up with cheaper alternatives. The blog boils it down to three essential considerations:

  • Keep it subtle
  • Create fine lines between spaces
  • Never underestimate the power of lighting

The post suggests curtains might replace fancy sliding doors for those on more modest budgets and goes on to double underline the lighting issue, stressing that you should “be judicious with lighting. Make sure when the walls are down that both rooms can flow into each other, but when separated, they can function independently as well.”

How have you used design to keep work and relaxation separate?

Images courtesy of Earl Carter for Nexus Designs.